Category Archives: science

Why you’re a prick if you fish a Copper John

Considering that Science is a stale read, I livened up my research by poring over pages of BASS forum datum, searching for “cable guy” wisdom on the use of scent on baits.

BASS fiends are more fun than fly fishermen, but only because they have so many more hang-ups (and such thin skins) …

Mention to a fly fisherman that he “coaches soccer,” and you get that screwed up face suggesting the joke was lost on him, whereas the bass crowd is already climbing over the bar intent on your arse …

In short, science suggests scent in fish is somewhat synonymous with taste, and it makes perfect sense. In humans scent is particulate matter mixed with air, and taste is particulate matter dissolved in spittle. Each sense being chemically discrete and can be experienced without the data intruding from one to the other.

Fish “smell” particles dissolved in water and their “taste” is the same medium, so the two senses have overlap.

The physics of water and scent is reasonably obvious. The rush of water downstream carries scent and forms a plume from the source of the dissolved solid. Lake water has much less of a current and therefore the scent area is a slowly widening circle from the source of the particulate.

current_scent

Naturally my slow moving ditch water has neither appreciable current nor is it completely stagnant, so the chemical trail of any bait tossed within its banks will be slow in spreading.

That’s the good news.

Science drops the bombshell by suggesting polluted waters affect smell drastically, and even fish exposed in migration can suffer many weeks of scent impairment. Among the most drastic pollutants are metals, heavy or otherwise.

The worst of the worst being copper, which should send a cold chill up any fisherman’s spine …

Copper is most frequently deployed as an algaecide or fungicide. Significant amounts of copper in the water column result from farm field runoff from crops that are water intensive like rice or tomatoes.

As we’re discussing those drainage ditches that bisect California’s Central Valley, we know that copper is deployed wherever there is rice fields, which comprises about half the state.

Naturally its the Northern half – which means all that copper is in the Sacramento, and pushed down to Southern California via the aqueduct, and spat into San Francisco Bay after permeating the Delta.

Copper is apparently linked to the decline of California’s Coho salmon population given its ability to destroy taste and smell in salmonids, making them unable to detect waterborne predators like Pike minnow, Otters, and everything else the southern water districts conjure up as a Jihadist of salmon.

So while you’re buying all that antimony because you can no longer bear to throw lead into the creek, consider your use of copper wire ribbing and how many fish are bumping into things because of your errant back casts and the rusting Copper John’s left in your wake.

Even worse is how Copper is being used to mitigate Didymo … and in so doing, will play havoc on everything downstream.

The Bass crowd are adamant on the merits of Anise, Garlic, Eau D’ Earthworm, Shrimp, Shad, Herring, and Crawfish. Naturally, they don’t spend a lot of time offering science to back up their assertion that Bass adore Garlic, but they can claim it makes their own hammy hands smell less like human.

… and fish hate human … along with tobacco, urine, bubblegum and a smoking fry pan …

In short, scent is among the senses used to detect prey, as bugs and minnows, crayfish and frogs, all have a chemical plume downstream of them, assisting a fish in opaque water to located them by following that plume upstream to its source.

Polluted water means fish can smell less, but as murk water is a fly fisherman’s Achilles Heel, cannot be ignored as a source of attraction.

Bass anglers mention that both aerosol and liquid scents seem to wash off faster than the “sticky jelly” variant, so it sounds like we’ll be getting our hands dirty …

Murk Water and the Vesicles of Savi

Counter to what we’re taught with traditional angling, we don’t run out to buy a vest and a thousand dollar rod simply to fish the vastness that is the murk water.

Rather, we’ll be channeling a lot of Arthur Conan Doyle, and learn the weaknesses of our quarry and his environment, knowing we’re not likely to be holding aces when fishing water with little or no visibility.

“Brown Water” is not brownlining, brown is merely a convenient pseudonym for a body of clay-rich and filthy … the presence of enough suspended sediment to make sight essentially useless.

Our normal fly tying arsenal of eye-searing colors and tinsel Bling is useless when visibility is so scant, as neither the hottest of Oranges nor the flash of iridescence can be seen under any light condition.

Yet those who’ve dipped salted clams for Catfish and other bottom dwelling bewhiskered species can vouch for their being well fed, suggesting fish acclimated to this environment have little issue finding food in opaque water.

It’s plain that something other than visuals draws predators to their prey, and it’s likely that the commotion of a struggling fish might travel further underwater than its visuals. Larger food items are likely to have a signature swimming motion allowing predators to quickly pounce on known items due to their swimming rhythm.

A mud burrowing mayfly may struggle enroute to the surface, but its small size is liable to have a proportional disturbance, which would have an insignificant signature compared to a larger baitfish or swimming frog.

Murk water has plenty of hatching insects, but hatches and surface bugs doesn’t yield the same swarm of opportunistic feeders. The rhythmic dimples we see with clear water species and bug hatches are the result of sight feeding and share no parallels in opaque water.

The science of fish and opaque water (or the impenetrable blackness of low light) is completely fascinating, and suggests that fish have as many as three tools to locate prey without relying on visuals.

First, it may surprise some that fish actually have ears, and their range of hearing (detectable frequencies) varies considerably among species. Scientists classify fish as “hearing specialists” – fish with an ability to hear a greater range of noise frequencies, “hearing generalists” – fish that can hear better than average, and regular fish, like Salmon and Trout with only marginal hearing.

Therefore, for most ?shes that rely on hearing only through particle stimulation mechanism, their hearing ability is limited to a narrow frequency band (less than 1000  H z) with high sound pressure threshold (as high as 120   dB at the best frequency). Such ?shes are hence termed  “ hearing generalist ”  species.

It should be little surprise that many of our dirty water fish like Carp and Catfish are among the hearing specialists.

However, fishes in the superorder Ostariophysi (e.g., cyprinoids, characoids, and siluroids) have a specialized mechanical coupling structure (i.e., the Weberian ossicles) that connect the gas bladder to the inner ear (Furukawa and Ishii 1967 ). Hence, vibrations caused by the passing sound to the gas bladder are transmitted to the ears and hearing abilities are enhanced. Because of their extended hearing frequency range (up to 8000 Hz in certain catfish) and low thresholds (60 dB in goldfish), these fishes are called “ hearing specialist ” species.

In addition to the ears of fish, a fish can also detect vibration in the water around it via its lateral line. It turns out this organ is poorly understood among ichthyologists, and while there is much thought and conjecture, there is a great deal of unknown about its function. What we do know is it is host to numerous types of receptors and its complete range of capabilities is still unknown.

The lateral line has mechanical receptors able to detect vibration in the water around it, akin to a second type of “hearing”. Less well known is the ability of the lateral line to detect electrical fields, the ability to discern the presence of a living organism due the change in their surrounding electrical current.

All organisms produce electrical currents. A variety of aquatic organisms can detect these currents with specialized neurons. Such electrical sense has been found in a number of invertebrates and many aquatic vertebrates including sharks, fish, and even mammals such as the duckbill platypus. Electrical senses are important in turbid waters such as muddy rivers or the vicinity of a bleeding victim after a shark takes its first bite (scarlet billows, through the water ….). Often, the electrical sense neurons are concentrated near the head or in a structure that is placed in contact with a muddy bottom, such as the barbels on the chin of a catfish (which also have chemoreceptors), or the bill of a platypus. Other organisms go so far as to create their own weak electrical currents (modified muscles can do the trick) and actively search out prey.

As turbid water emits “noise” both audible and vibrational, consider your average trout stream to be an exceptionally noisy environment. Water flow around obstacles creates vibration as does current when it scours streambed and propels rocks and debris downstream.

Like light, high pitched noise (high frequency) travels the shortest distance in fluid. So if we’re tiptoeing around the creek and bark our shin on a stone – emitting a girly-nasal-screech will scare less fish than a throaty epithet …

And were we to pull all that murk water auditory science into fly design, we’d want larger beads in the rattle than smaller beads to make the noise as deep (low frequency) as possible, we’d want as many things sticking out of the fly as we could to cause vibrations when yanked through the water, we’d want the thing weedless as we have no idea what peril we’re throwing it at, and we’d want it to throw a dab of static into the water column to alert predators that it has a heartbeat versus some shoddy silicon wiggletail …

… and smell, smell would be nice …

Why my conservation dollar is no longer available, and why conservation must change with the rest of the industry

I have a tendency for melancholy when my beloved creek’s bones are exposed.

drycreek

Dewatering is now a yearly ritual and simply means the upper stretches of the creek won’t be worth fishing for at least another three years. While more fish will move down from the dam this Winter, it will take many more years to make them of catchable size.

What surprised me was how this year’s killing made me rethink the sport, its past emphasis on conservation and the environment, and how the tired old conservation rallying cry is no longer of any consequence to me.

Since 2008, both the US and world economy has dominated the headlines. Federal, state, and local municipalities have little money for conservation or wildlife stewardship and their focus has been avoiding fiscal insolvency. They’ve backed any project deemed “shovel ready” to stimulate jobs, keep tax revenues stable, and ensure some small fraction of us retain our homes and keep making those all important house payments.

At the same time, “fracking” has brought about a renaissance in our indigenous oil and gas industries, and the last couple of administrations have been quite happy to open new federal lands and accommodate new leases to ensure the boom absorbs as many out-of-work citizens as is possible.

State governments are concerned about solvency first, stimulating those areas hardest hit by the Recession of 2008 and falling home prices, and ensuring they make a business-friendly environment for whichever flavor of entrepreneur makes eye contact.

That means less money for all state programs, not simply our beloved parks, game, and wildlife oversight agencies.

As the days of the hundred dollar fly rod are long gone, as is the fifty dollar chicken neck, and anglers are being steered into a brand-conscious urbane fishing experience where tackle is the new professionalism, how come conservation still comes in its sorry old wrapper?

Sure, there’s a few mean old guys like myself that think fly rod technology has become Microsoft Office, a bunch of stuff added that no one asked for and so esoteric as to not even be announced on the box. But change has always been good, and if I’m to embrace this new fishing mantra, why am I still enduring the same tired “Salmonid Uber Alles” on the conservation front?

Give us your money so we can spend it on the headwaters of some creek, shoring up its banks and ensuring the fragile little salmonid we hold above all else, is able to thrive for six months more …”

Salmonids are yesterday’s news, and creeks cannot be restored with grant funds as they’re available once and watershed restoration is a yearly cost, as the need is forever. In the face of climate change, why are we perpetuating salmonids, which are fragile like European aristocracy, inbred hemophiliacs and incestuous to the point of instability?

What conservation needs is a cockroach, something hearty with thick scales that can handle being squeezed, gut-hooked, run over, and peed on, as that’s what the new ecology warrants.

I only fish for salmonids occasionally, yet I ‘m supposed to care more for someone else’s creek than I do for mine, knowing that my money won’t sustain life, it will only postpone the inevitable.

In my state the environment is a foregone conclusion. Huge tunnels drilled through the Delta will divert all the remaining Northern water South and the real issue is whether we can pass the bond measure, not whether it’s a good idea or no. More billions for high speed rail relegates eminent domain or environmental press to the rear of the metro section as the Governor backs it, the legislature wants it, and the Resources Secretary remains silent.

“Fight the battle you can win”, and this is not about the environment as it is lowering the unemployment rate. Smiling workers growing crops, and ensures agribusiness has everything it desires to grow ever bigger and employ more. High speed rail permits those workers to live ever further from where they toil, allowing Southern California cities to sprawl unchecked, to annex large portions of Mexico or even Arizona …

Our governmental agencies are rooted in the propagation of dead fish over the living, which is why so much of their dwindling finances are spent raising so many. It knows the majority of its citizens ignore their doctor’s advice and don’t eat fish, but like all outdoorsmen, are thrilled to kill them at every opportunity.

Our angling conservation organizations serve up the same tired sales pitch that starts with an appeal to our sensibilities, how we’re duty-bound to steward the environment for our kids, yet our kids show no sign of stirring themselves from the embrace of their X-box, and both anglers and hunters dwindle further. “Conservationists” are seen in the major media venues as a radical cadre of eggheads and Vegans determined to impede the majority in their right to terraform the environment to their liking … and conservationists … conservationists are but a single threat level away from a drone strike.

As I regard all the vast expanse of sun-blasted rock that was my creek I realize my generation and those before me had our chance …

The Sixties were all about Mother Earth and Birkenstocks, whole grains, whole foods, and living in an uneasy peace with the planet. All those macrobiotic peace-loving citizens grew up and decided that while bean sprouts were cool, cheese burgers were better, and now cries for “Saving the Whale” means an exposed arse cheek and an insulin shot, as Earth shoes faded in favor of Cheetos, and Mother Earth was reduced to the Couch.

Swooping in for the kill is Madison Avenue, who picked up on the last half dozen presidential elections and elevated “what scares us” to the new Sex. Fear selling even better than a shapely ankle, and anything outside of our control like sleeping on the ground, bears, bees, or bats, should make way for gleaming hotels and more cell towers.

… after all, animals have had the run of the woods for tens of millions of years and all they do is crap in it.

In short, after many years of living that dream – of portaging out discarded leader bags and cast-off indicator foam, of spooling loose monofilament and tucking it into a vest pocket, of policing empty beer bottles and broken Styrofoam from dropped coolers, it has become time to turn this over to the next guys … to do with as they will.

As I’ve not fished for a salmonid in some time, I’ll ask of those conservation organizations what I’ve asked of my cable vendor, my Internet provider, and all other luxury items I purchase … how it’s time to tighten my belt, and “trout” is no longer enough of a message for me to continue my existing service.

As no one is interested in my stressed little brown rivulet, I’m no longer interested in footing the bill for the last two miles of some creek I’ll never fish.

… furthermore, the fact that you stabilized its banks and planted willows does not mean you can contact me next year for more money.

Global warming is likely going to treat your thin skinned, disease prone, clean-water-requiring salmonid and stress its watersheds and eradicate it from much of its historical and introduced turf. Just as its doing with all forms of amphibians. Global warming is change and while currently seen as bad, may just be the way of things when you consider the last 35 million years.

Remember it’s not the climate change that you need to fear, it’s the competing predator that climate change brings with it that will ensure no trace remains. That unloved cockroach fish that eats human waste, reproduces asexually, and doesn’t need the banks stabilized or willows planted to lower water temperatures, it only need pets and small children frolicking in the lukewarm brown water to feed …

It might be the Smallmouth Bass or the Asian Carp, but something will surely skull-fuck your fragile little salmonid and claim the prime feeding lie. If that’s not enough, then your remaining little enclaves of salmonids will be dispatched by well meaning humans, who delight in stomping life out of ecosystems as a byproduct of “stewardship” and unclean felt soles.

The future fly fisherman is not likely to be a poster child for a chilled Chardonnay, rather he’ll be chugging a tepid energy drink over something dirty and lukewarm…

… yet friendly. There’ll be no stiff necks and stiffer lips when a dead cat drifts through the riffle. It’ll be the Brotherhood of Suffering and Antibiotics, instead of ascots and clean linen.

.. and it’s about damn time.

For those conservation organizations that survive, your mission will evolve accordingly. Your issues no longer resonate with me or the environment. The headwaters of some salmon creek that hosts 30,000 fish held in higher regard than a hundred ignored creeks that once held  100,000 fish each, is “grant money” math that doesn’t add up.

When your mission statement and your desired outcome embraces more than salmon and trout, feel free to send me another request to reestablish my membership, as I can always use another swell hat.

A light dusting of green for us damp Valley types

My only hope is the predictive services offered are a bit more accurate than your weatherman, as guessing on storms and their payload is a science based on an awful lot of hypothetical …

… mostly involving how much water the ground can absorb, versus how much will wind up as actual runoff.

beaver_scrub Travelwriter sent me this link just after I’d returned his dog from a hike through the watershed, which featured the obligatory back scrub in fresh beaver deposit, so I’m not altogether sure whether I’m doing you a favor or not. (You may want to rely on your own observations until you can confirm the site is accurate.)

In short, it’s a NOAA map of California showing what storms are calculated to dump and the resultant effect on watersheds. Additional tabs feature what the storm actually dumps and once past, allows you to compare the pre- and post- conditions for accuracy.

Just remember its tea leaves and tarot cards, a predictive engine for rainfall and runoff.

While flood prediction is not terribly exciting to fishermen, those of you chasing steelhead and salmon can get insight into what a fresh storm has in store, and how badly flows might be altered, and may save you a fishless fishing trip or two …

suddenly_green

Yesterday’s big winter blast rolled through the valley leaving green and chocolate in its wake.

chocolate_creek

One little turn of the spigot and I’ve got six feet of muddy water roaring through the channel, suggesting outside of a dry spell, fishing will be slim for the next couple of months.

Just another thick envelope between gentlemen

Science for Hire Most of my giggles have been the irrational kind but it’s nice to see that the “we’ll tune Science for pay” phenomenon isn’t localized to the US or an election year …

While us Californian’s dicker over whether Striped Bass are the root of all evil, and while federal scientists determine whether the Delta should be sucked or flushed southward, our esteemed pals across the pond are enduring their fair share of neo-science for hire.

To wit, a scientist aligned with the farmed fishing industry claims us anglers have simply killed too many wild salmon, in the process removing too much genetic diversity from the population, and therefore a kind of “genetic drift” has lead to an indolent population of fish that prefer Twinkies and energy drinks. *

“We, at Callander McDowell, think that…the loss of genetic material rather than being the result of one big accident has been the repeated loss of genetic material from the rivers over the last 150 years and possibly even longer. This loss is due to the rise in recreational angling for salmon, whereby anglers take home their catch. Each fish kept and consumed is one more part of the genetic jigsaw that has gone missing. Even in recent years, the loss to the gene pool continues despite attempts to stop it through the introduction of Catch and Release.”

-via fishnewseu.com

The core of the issue being how escaped farmed salmon can interbreed with native stocks and weaken the population with their test tube genetics. As in the US and Canada, numerous ills have been blamed on escaped fish and their ability to interbreed, despite the industries efforts to contain their slippery crop.

Recent information on hatchery fish and their effect on wild populations would suggest that the progeny of fish that thrive in a concrete canal where pellets of food are shoveled in their direction, might not survive very well in the wild.

Hatchery fish themselves could be having an impact, too: recent studies have found genetic and behavioral differences in hatchery-born and wild salmonids. Hybrid offspring of hatchery and wild fish may have a lower chance of surviving and reproducing than purely wild offspring do.

– via the NY Times

Most anglers would acknowledge our collective sporting carnage. We’ve enjoyed driving great distances to scenic venues so we can kill many millions of fish. The fishing industry has taken it a bit further with large nets and electronics, and what they didn’t get has been doomed by the rest of us and toxic runoff from industry, cities, and attachment to fossil fuels.

I’d think moderates and liberals would have as much trepidation about believing Science as conservatives, given how much of it that makes the papers has been bought and paid for …

* I get to add some knee jerk half assed flavor of science too …

The social , gregarious fish are simply too precious to “one hand” or lift out of the water

largemouth_glasses Our study involving largemouth bass provides the
first direct experimental evidence that vulnerability to
angling is a heritable trait and, as a result, that
recreational hook-and-line fisheries can cause evolutionary
change in fish populations.

– via Selection for Vulnerability to Angling in Largemouth Bass

A twenty year study on Largemouth Bass yields an eye-opening conundrum for anglers, as the research suggests that Bass pass the likelihood for being caught from one generation to the next.

A 20-year study, led by University of Illinois research David Philipp, provided the first direct experimental proof that vulnerability to angling is an inherited trait.
Beginning in the 1970s, Philipp and his colleagues tagged and released largemouth bass in a pond in central Illinois. Some fish were caught up to 16 times a year. But when the pond was drained in the 1980s, they found that 200 of the 1,700 bass that were tagged had never been caught.
From that stock, the researchers bred groups of "high-vulnerability" and "low-vulnerability" bass. Then they stocked those fish in the same pond and repeated the experiment. Through three generations, the offspring stayed true to the parents’ tendencies.

– via Red Bluff Daily News

Years ago, US anglers took great exception to the practice of killing wild trout that was common on managed water in Europe and the UK. Angling restrictions required the fish be kept, as the prevailing theory was, “once it’s felt the hook – it’s not likely to eat an artificial again.”

The document mentions that Rainbow Trout have been used in similar research but fails to mention any conclusions of their use as subjects.

While the above conclusion is limited to Largemouth Bass, if it were to hold for most gamefish, then killing fish that take any fly, lure, or bait, ensures only the antisocial, cagey fish are left to breed, thereby ensuring that the fishery is ruined for us beer drinking vacationers …

Of interest is the description of the Largemouth’s vision, it can see about 50 feet with a resolution quality of about 10% that of a human.

Several lure companies have come out with highly touted lures with intricate paint patterns designed to imitate baitfish. But many of those baits proved to be a disappointment and never did sell the way manufacturers hoped they would.

The problem? They might have been too accurate.

Too much realism can make the bait invisible to prowling bass, based on distance and diminished vision quality. A bass might miss the movement should the lure be at sufficient distance (water being murky) whose camouflage was simply too good to be detected.

"The bass uses its eyesight and lateral line in combination when it is feeding," Jones said. "The lateral line is very effective in feeling local disturbances one to two body lengths away."

The full research paper was published in 2009 by the American Fisheries Society, and is available in PDF.

Now that we understand all those “red-state conservatives” no longer believe in Science, we can go down there and kick some tournament ass.

In Spring a young man’s thoughts turn to Invasives?

death_rayOnly recently recovered from the attempt to make Striped Bass the killer of all salmonids, and now on the eve of my Spring Shad orgy, West Coast scientists are suddenly spraying my favorite quarry with the invasive label.

… and while they readily admit that most of the science on American Shad has been done on the East Coast, and very little is known of our Western invasive cousin, now that we’ve extincted the Pacific Salmon, we’re sure to find the American Shad had a hand in it.

All of which causes me to burst into tears, given that Science can never bring themselves to admit we paved, screwed, and ate, anything that was tasty – and are even now grinding up and coloring everything that isn’t  ..

So the last big anadromous fishery left on the Pacific Coast, needs to be kilt off because they weren’t invited? How about you restore some urban stream to a healthy population of salmon and then we’ll talk – and not before.

This month Fisheries Magazine features a couple of articles on the American Shad, the first relating the efforts to get them here, and the second relating to how their spread along the Pacific Coast might have altered the environment for our Pacific Salmon, how they may have had a hand in both helping and extincting same.

Young shad dine on similar freshwater foods as young salmon, young shad may provide more food for known salmon predators like my beloved Northern Pikeminnow, allowing them to survive in greater numbers to prey upon young salmon, and Shad may have been host to saltwater parasites that spread to both salmon and humans in freshwater.

But they’re not really all that sure of any of it …

In fact, it is out of concern specifically for salmon that biologists now seriously contemplate the ecological role of shad in the Columbia River. For some, the “scientific” response has been “guilty until proven innocent” (Simberloff 2007), with calls to eliminate shad above Bonneville Dam (Snake River Salmon Recovery Team [SRSRT] 1994; National Marine Fisheries Service [NMFS] 1995). Though some hypotheses have been advanced to suggest that shad may negatively affect Pacific coastal ecosystems (e.g., Haskell et al. 2001; Harvey and Kareiva 2005; Hershberger et al. 2010), the specific interactions with salmon remain largely untested hypotheses, and the a priori vilification of shad in the absence of supporting data constitutes speculation and opinion, not established fact (J. H.Brown and Sax 2007). The presence of shad in the Columbia River may actually be a mixed blessing.

… and on the converse, because young shad are numerically superior to any other life form in these rivers at certain times of the year, science suggests they may have a beneficial role – serving as a food source for young salmon.

One thing’s for sure, something is eating something else – and we’re eating that …

What science there is on the Pacific contingent of the American Shad is focused on the west coast’s greatest rivers, the Columbia and the Sacramento. While much of these articles dealt with impoundments of the Columbia, some insights into local fish were new (to us anglers) …

Specifically, Smith (1895) reported the tendency
of Sacramento River shad to remain in the San Francisco Bay
region throughout the year, with some proportion of the population foregoing the typical marine migration altogether. Smith (1895) also reported San Francisco Bay shad to be in spawning condition from December to August. This is considerably longer than the source stock used for introduction.

Outside of being enormously fun to catch, ask any two anglers about Shad behavior and you’re liable to get mostly rumor and innuendo, exposing the dearth of information that exists on our favorite saltwater racehorse.

/end Science.

/begin Opinion.

I can’t help note how restoring fisheries always starts with us killing something else. Actual restoration is bestial hard, nor can I point to a single river or pond and say, “ … this was once terrible and has been completely restored.”

There’s a reason for that.

If we are ever to be successful restoring anything, then we have to manage it for eternity, not for some well meaning conservation organization to cut a ribbon, dust its hands and pronounce, “we’re done.”

Restoration is never done, and as soon as you lose resolve or run out of money, all your hard work slips into the Abyss.

… which is why when I hear the Rotenone call, “Nuke it from orbit, it’s the only way to be sure” – I get all squirrely, as killing has always been the easiest part.

It’s my belief that all of our conservation organizations added together, combined with all the awesome might of the federal wildlife agencies, have restored  … nothing.

Not a single lake, stream, or rivulet.

Surely, they are busy restoring all kinds of things, but they will never be done – and so long as they allow us fishermen to fish, or developers to build, we’ll being spilling something new into the water that’ll prove bad for fish, and trigger some new species collapse that’ll need yet another task force, and even more money.

… yet every so often we get an evolutionary “lucky.” Some unloved, unwanted cockroach that repopulates water too poor to sustain what used to live there, and we gash ourselves and claim, “ … how goddamn dare they.”

Science busies itself uncorking Death Rays and Rotenone to rid itself of the interloper, knowing all the time that it’s easier to nuke some bland filet than muster the political clout to cite the BP refinery upstream that kilt all the old stuff …

Scientists in aggregate are smart as hell. Unfortunately within the gleaming walls of their laboratory they practice Hollywood Science, pure, pristine, and untrammeled. Reality-based science is called “politics”, and those fellows aren’t so smart, and are often careless and greedy.

Is it really Whirling Disease, or did we just make the entire batch spin to the left?

oOPSIe, we didn't know Until recently fisheries biologists have seen the adipose fin as largely superfluous, and have clipped it to visually distinguish planted fish from their wild cousins.

Now they’re not so sure.

Recent studies suggest the adipose fin is crucial to fish, aiding it in navigating turbulent water.

With the tiny fin removed, he says the fish need to use much more energy to maintain position and speed in the water.

– via CBC News Canada

Given that the practice is especially prevalent with salmonids, which re-enter fresh water when it is most turbulent, it may have been one of many reasons why hatchery fish have never adequately replaced indigenous populations.

Makes you wonder whether we’ve been our own worst enemy, accidentally even. 

Why the trout fairy tale no longer has a happy ending

Global_Warming I’m a sucker for the dim view, given that economics and temperature mixed with apathy and the potential decline in size of the US government adds up to be  the worst scenario, not the neutral agent others envision.

The short version is that a panel of 11 scientists from Colorado State University, Trout Unlimited, the U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station, the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group, have released a study of four trout species that suggests we’ll be losing half of all trout habitat over the next seventy years.

Most of that loss will be attributed to rising temperatures and global warming, and depending on which warming model is chosen – will dictate how much and how fast – and determines whether we care whether girls use saddle hackles or mule dung in their hair …

Congress is adamant the size of government must be reduced, given we owe most of the GDP to those countries still able to buy our debt, and depending on how much we decide to divest, will be eager to prune wasteful dollars funding watchdog agencies and trout planting – areas that hinder industry from creating  millions of jobs, or serve only the privileged few … us fishermen.

Trout Unlimited and every privately funded conservation group added together couldn’t save  a single river, especially so due to the waves of genetically-superior invasives outcompeting historical residents. Carp might be able to survive a couple of decades longer, but standoffish salmonids have no chance whatsoever.

Mostly because you guys balked when AquaBounty insisted they could insert the gene for sharp teeth and claws – which would’ve allowed them to go toe to toe with all those foreign regiments climbing out of the bilge water.

Instead you left their fate to boards of directors filled with well meaning retirees gashing themselves over “how come they let them trout’s die,” whose wailing lent wings to global warming.

health_careThis being the age of Tea Parties, Beauty Queens from Alaska, and indistinguishable political parties, who’ve got no reason to keep industry in check, or slow their exploitation. Well meaning types weakened by foreclosure and the enforced idleness that comes with 24 months of unemployment, are likely to let down their at the lure of lasting and permanent jobs. Most of those will be cleaning the Pristine because BP fracked it, or something equally poisonous.

That’s more than likely the causal agent of most of the habitat loss, only the body scientific is reluctant to confess and endanger additional grants.

Should the globe warm a couple of degrees as science is predicting, that’ll clear both coastline and interior so they can pave and erect great glass edifices proclaiming our victory over Nature; how we booted Bambi from crapping on all that real estate – and gave her a spacious suite at the Zoo as reward …

They’re hurting, these men of a certain age. Losing their livelihood isn’t the only “transition” they’re going through. Dr. Jed Diamond, author of Surviving Male Menopause and The Irritable Male Syndrome, calls it a “double whammy.” The first: “a change of life, hormonally based, affecting our psychology and emotions from 40 to 55.” The second: unemployment. “It’s devastating. The extreme reaction is suicide, but before you get there, there’s irritability and anger, fatigue, loss of energy, withdrawal, drinking, more fights with their wives.”

– from Dead Suit Walking, Newsweek Magazine

Newsweek calls our demographic the “Beached White Male” (BWM), suggesting the real casualties of the recession being middle aged college educated white boys. Add in all them guts spilling over waistlines and the Type II Diabetes epidemic that’s about to leave the streets paved in corpses –  and our generation will have destroyed most of the tillable sections of the globe, as well as eliminated any need for (non televised) sports, the out of doors, and John Wayne …

… then paid the price in one spasmodic orgy of cholesterol.

Which I find strangely appropriate, proof that despite all the advances of science we’ve never listened to anything other than our reproductive organs and our gut – settling the whole issue about whether we read it for the pictures or the articles …

The end of the unwilling outdoor blood donation

Under the counter sales to them as can reproduce As most of you already know, mosquitoes ferret us out due to the CO2 we exhale. Ditto for anything else that sucks blood, and why entomologists lay dry ice on a white blanket and run for their lives …

Now researchers claim they can render us completely invisible to the hosts of blood sucking insects by giving us a repellant that will cause complete sensory overload to all the creepy crawly things that are determined to make the out-of-doors experience miserable and demeaning.

… to the gals mostly, us real woodsmen delight in bleeding profusely, and show our scars at the least provocation …

The good news is that it’s “1000 times more powerful than DEET.” Which was removed from shelves due to its propensity to lower your kid’s IQ and cause numerous birth defects. A thousand times more powerful suggests that probability may be inching towards certainty, which may make sales to those under 65 illegal.

… not to worry, fly shops will sell little crack vials to them as able to reproduce, for six or seven times the normal markup … Or I will, in the parking lot … for even more.